Still time

As usual on Monday, the WordPress algorithm offered three “Related” posts for people to explore if they were intrigued enough to read further after my musing “Meta Physics.” See them there, down at the bottom of the page, if you read that far?

One of the options this time was a post I posted on Dec. 30, 2021, as I contemplated the year ahead, the waning number of years ahead, and what I wanted to accomplish in the time allotted to me.

The post was called “It is time,” and I riffed off the memorable moment, in the history of this place near the shores of Green Bay, when defensive coach Kevin Greene took talented Clay Matthews aside and told him, “It is time.” Moments later Matthews made the play that all but sealed his team’s Super Bowl victory. It was indeed time to rise to the challenge, and Matthews came through.

That day just before the beginning of 2022, I wrote:

I’m into the fourth quarter and it’s a tie so far, or perhaps a slight lead. I’ve made a touchdown or two, maybe a field goal, but the end is not far away and the W is not quite nailed down.

IT IS TIME. Oh, yeah, I’ve written some books, even sold a few handfuls, I’ve blogged more than 500 straight days, picked up some followers, got a couple dozen email readers whom I rarely regale.

IT IS TIME. What is it I want to say? Entertain – Enlighten – Encourage. Meh. My mission statement/vision consists of three wandering generalities. Let’s be more specific.

I want to encourage people to use their brains and common sense and take initiatives. Encourage people to act with fearless freedom and not let busybodies and bullies run their lives.

I want to enlighten people about what came before – fun but semi-forgotten books and songs and TV and radio, and thoughts like Wallace D. Wattles’ “you are a creator, not a competitor” … 

I want to entertain and give the world adventures, stories that do all of the above and a few thrills and chills and spills — but after every chill a warming, after every spill an ascent.

Those thoughts are a little more focused, and here I sit a half-hour after starting to write, a little hesitant, a little inspired, and not sure what to do next. 

“Just get started.” Who said that?

It is time.

Ah, these 21 months later, much has transpired and I’m still not satisfied with my progress along the way. However, I realize now that dissatisfaction is normal and probably even healthy. Who wants to sit back and say, “Ah yes, I’m satisfied now, I have accomplished everything I set out to do”? At that point, nothing would be left to do except pass on to the great beyond.

Better, I think, to reach the point where I’m called to the great beyond and think, “Well, I had more to do, but I guess I can be content with what I managed to get done.”

That said, I am still a little hesitant, still a little inspired, and still not quite sure what to do next.

And a little voice is still saying, “Just get started.” After 21 months I recognize the voice. It’s me, of course.

It is still time.

On the road to dreaming big

I am working my way a second time through Bob Goff’s book Dream Big, but this time I’m doing the exercises he recommends along the way. He starts with three big questions: Who are you? Where are you? What do you want?

Who am I? A guy who likes to string words and sounds together as melodically as I can. Where am I? Stuck. What do I want? To get unstuck.

In answer to one of Bob’s prompts, “Are there some recurring themes in your behaviors and choices?” I wrote in all-caps, “PEACE. NONVIOLENCE. PUPPIES.” 

Being less glib, I recognize that a recurring theme in my behavior is what Steven Pressfield calls Resistance — a reluctance to move my dreams ahead — to finish my work, to get better at my musical instrument(s), to learn my craft — not so much the craft of writing, but the craft of shipping it out to willing customers (and I keep shaping that thought in terms of “customers,” rather than people who share my love of words and stories and songs. I suspect that’s part of the problem.)

It’s not that I don’t think my stuff is any good — the three novels-in-progress are the best I’ve ever crafted, but something pathological in me won’t finish them. Am I afraid that even my best isn’t good enough for the world? That would be so silly, and I don’t believe that’s the issue.

I suspect I have a touch of agoraphobia. Red was so worried that I might become a hermit that among her last entreaties to me was not to be one. I do tend to retreat into myself on a routine basis. I identified with the character in my friend Linda R. Spitzfaden’s novel The Other Side of Everything who wanted to step outside but was unable to do so for reasons no one could understand.

I want to finish my novels and go out into the world and be the wordsmith and podcaster and novelist and singer-songwriter who have always been lurking in my soul — I want to be Ray Bradbury and Judee Sill and Uncle Warren and Paul Harvey and e.e. cummings. They are in there, bursting to leap out and show the world what they’ve got. “I got the Resistance and I got it bad,” each of them says in turn and then goes back into hiding.

Another unfinished project is that I have struggled to sit down and write thank-you notes to all the people who sent me condolences or came to Red’s funeral two months ago. I wrote a note to myself Sunday night: “GET UNSTUCK. Monday: Write one thank-you note. Write one paragraph of Jeep. Write one paragraph of (other unannounced work in progress). Buy stamps.”

OK, that last one was everyday life trying to sneak back in. Everyday life is my favorite excuse for the recurring theme that I know what to do and I just — won’t — do it. “Yumping Yiminy, Uncle Warren, break out of the damn rut and be who you are!” I concluded my journal entry.

I’m pleased to report that before I sat down to post this Monday morning, I wrote my first thank-you note, I wrote several short paragraphs for Jeep Thompson and The Lost Prince of Venus, and I wrote several short paragraphs for (other unannounced work in progress). It’s not much, but it’s a start, and if I rinse and repeat every day, I think I can start dreaming big again.

So there it is

My shelving-unit exchange the other day had an unexpected side benefit: I found Dream Big by Bob Goff in a pile on one of the units. 

I’d read the book with some interest a couple years ago and set it aside. Then earlier this summer I was introduced to Goff’s earlier books, Love Does and Everybody, Always, and got to know and like Goff a little more completely.

I looked high and low for Dream Big because I didn’t remember taking it to Goodwill or lending it to a friend, so it had to be in my possession somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. I finally decided I did take it to Goodwill — but then, there it was in the large tower of shelves next to my desk. Obviously I never thought to look there.

I’ve already had my mind rekindled. Here’s a bit from the introduction to Dream Big, where he’s talking about how we write stuff in each other’s high school yearbooks:

“Never change” was written in my yearbook by at least a dozen people. It’s the worst advice I’ve ever received. We’re supposed to change constantly — into kinder, humbler, more faithful versions of our old selves. This change and growth happens when we sort out the truth from the lies in our lives.

Ain’t that the truth? Everything changes, and we change along with it all. I think of interactions I had in my twenties and thirties and think, “Who was that guy and how did anybody like him?” I’d like to think I’m a kinder, humbler version of myself by now, although just saying that doesn’t sound very humble.

But the thought is a good one. We should be striving every day to be a better person than we were the day before.

So I’m off to a good start on my second go-round with Dream Big. I’ll tell you how the rest goes.

Rearranging the furniture again

Regular visitors will notice I adjusted the look of this website on Sunday night. Longtime visitors will notice it looks very much like it used to look back when the blog was hosted by WordPress. I’m still with WordPress, of course, but I’m paying to have more control over the content, i.e., no outside ads, for example.

What I always liked about about this theme, other than it’s simple and easy to read, is the sidebar where you can browse older posts and I can post links to my email newsletter and books. Yes, this website is where I share my addled thinking and fragments of creativity with the world, but its main purpose is to give you an opportunity to purchase the books I’ve written, edited and/or published.

Hopefully the daily shameless self-promotion won’t put you off too much; I’ll still be here on the left side trying to encourage, enlighten and/or entertain you, and this part is free. And subscribing to the newsletter only costs you your email address and my occasional invasion of your mailbox, but in return you’ll get Jeep Thompson and the Lost Prince of Venus: Episode 1: Journey to the Second Planet, the first third of my long-promised next novel.

My brain has been focused on rearranging the furniture this weekend. Some dear friends came to visit and de-clog my downspouts so that the summer rains are diverted to where they’re supposed to be diverted instead of overflowing my eaves. And when I saw Summer and Dejah frolicking among the weeds that threatened to consume the hostas, I realized it was long past time to mow the backyard.

All the yard work and furniture rearranging, unfortunately, has put me a little further behind on my day-job tasks than I’d care to admit, so I must leave you with this status report and return to my regular musings tomorrow. Feel free to click around and explore the place, and, if I haven’t said this of late, thanks for stopping by.

The pleasure is in the writing

I found myself on the 150th page of my 21st journal and found myself wondering what I have learned by scribbling on hundreds of pages in eight years and four months of regular journaling. One thing I’ve learned is that I keep tripping over the same dilemmas and bad habits I was tripping over when I started.

Oh, I’ve made progress — if nothing else I’m more aware of what I need to be doing when I’m not doing it. I do have quite a few more books to show for the effort, even if no one is buying them. The moral of that story is write the books you want to write: Chances are very good they won’t sell enough to make you a living, so you may as well enjoy the process of making them. The love is in the writing. The reward is in producing the words, linking the ideas and the stories from here to there.

It’s not the next Harry Potter, is it? It’s not the next trilogy so grand they’ll need four movies to tell the three stories? Yeah, well, but it’s your story, it’s your book, told from your unique perspective, and of all the people who say they always wanted to write a book, you are one of the tribe who actually sat down and got it written. Coming up next is the joy of sitting down to write a second book, and a third, and get into even rarer territory. 

The journey is the reward. The pleasure is in the writing. Oh, it would be nice to hear the sweet sound of applause, but if you do the writing right, you have the sweet feeling of fulfillment. Whether the applause will ever come is somewhat out of your control, but reaching the finish line? That’s all in your hands.

Stuff your eyes with wonder

I am of the opinion that it would be fun to use my July 19 blog post, “See the world!” as the jumping-off point or anchor to my next collection of blog posts.

I try to make these volumes somewhat coherent, grouping reflections around a common theme more or less defined by the title piece. “A Bridge at Crossroads” morphed into a collection of encouragements. “Gladness is Infectious” became the first in a series celebrating gladness. “Full” evolved into a book, well, full of words.

I like the idea of finding posts — and writing new ones — that expand on this theme of seeing the world, not in the sense of traveling but in the sense of paying attention to the beauty and wonder all around us every moment. And what do you know — stop me if you’ve heard this one before — it’s an idea I can trace directly to Ray Bradbury.

Because on the page in my journal where I scrawled what became the July 19 post, I see that I wrote down this Bradbury quote:

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’ll drop dead in 10 seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made of paid for in factories.”

Bradbury was born in August 1920 (on the 22nd, to be precise), so maybe it’s natural for me to be feeling Braburyesque around this time of year. In any case I am charmed by this notion of seeing the world and “stuffing my eyes with wonder.” There’s a lot of wonderful stuff to be seen, all around.

Year 4 starts now

Three years ago today, I posted a little fantasy about how the telescreens of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four came true in the form of the personal devices that we spend so much time staring at. For a title I used the words of an astonished Winston Smith when he encountered a telescreen that actually had an on/off switch: “You can turn it off!”

I had a hidden agenda that day, one I didn’t talk about for a few weeks because I have a habit of announcing grandiose plans and having them fizzle: I resolved to blog every day from August through October, a total of 92 consecutive days, more than I had ever mustered in my years of blogging since 2006.

I made it to 92 and kept on blogging; today marks the beginning of my fourth year as an honest-to-goodness daily blogger. Monday was the (365 times 3 equals) 1,095th consecutive day that I have posted something here at

Lesson learned — no grandiose announcements, just quietly do your thing, right? Wrong. Not long afterward I announced I was writing a new novel about a character named Jeep Thompson and I’d be publishing it in 2021. I did publish the first third of the novel — on May 15, 2023 — and have high hopes of getting the rest of it on the market in time to be under your Christmas tree this year. 

I’ve been doing some thinking about goals for the rest of the year, and I’m itching to share them, but I’ve seen time and time again what happens when I share my big plans.

Lately I’ve been thinking that part of my problem is a lack of focus — when you have six novels in various stages of incompletion, a daily blog and a day job, it’s easy to get in a state where your eyes glaze over when it’s time to write. And so I decided to pick three projects and only three for the rest of the year.

One is the afore-mentioned Jeep novel, which got a boost when the people who have read the first third (What? You haven’t read it? Rectify that by clicking here) not only didn’t hate it but had nice things to say about it.

The second is a short novella or novelette that I have managed never to mention in public. Before now. Oh, I’ve jinxed it now. Make believe I didn’t say anything about a sequel to a beloved Christmas classic.

And the third is the project I mentioned the other day. I’m hoping to generate a little excitement about this project by dropping hints every few days, like this one.

Oh, and I’m still planning to keep blogging every day, so I guess that’s four projects, and I still have the day job, which technically is a fifth center of focus, and — see how this stuff gets away from me?